Do you regret your college degree?

Do you regret your college degree? A shocking new statistic finds that many Americans do, in fact, regret their college education. According to a PayScale survey of 248,000 respondents, almost two-thirds of employees have regrets about their degrees. In fact, almost 27% of workers with college degrees stated that their student loan debt was their top regret, according to the study.

Major regrets

Following the big regret of pursuing a college degree, survey participants listed their major choice as their second biggest regret.

Here’s a breakdown of regret level, by majors:

The biggest regretters: 75% of humanities majors (and survey participants) stated they regretted their degrees. Additionally, 73% of graduates who studied social sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, and art also shared in the high levels of regret about their degree choice. The regret expressed by humanities majors is thought to be tied to the lower salary predictions for jobs in those fields.

In the middle: Over 1/2 of business, health sciences, and math graduates said they regretted their college degrees. The actual survey breakdown: 66% of business graduates, 67% of health sciences graduates and 68% of math graduates expressed regret for their degree choice.

Surprising statistic: 37% of teachers and education professionals had “no regrets” about their major choice. In fact, this groups were the second-least likely, after engineering grads, to have  zero regrets about their major choice.

Most satisfied: Those with science, technology, and engineering majors reported better satisfaction with their college degrees. In fact, around 42% of engineering graduates and 35% of computer science graduates said they had no regrets about their educational path and major choice.

Salaries and happiness

The link between college education and major regrets may be tied to future money-earning potential. Perhaps this is why science, technology, and engineering majors reported better satisfaction with their college degrees. According to Forbes, graduates with STEM degrees had the highest salaries mid-career, with a mid-career average salary of $114,670.

The five highest paying STEM majors, by mid-career average, were:

  1. Petroleum engineering ($183,600)
  2. Actuarial mathematics ($158,100)
  3. Building science ($135,000)
  4. System engineering ($131,200)
  5. Chemical engineering ($126,900

In contrast, the top five humanities degree earners, by mid-career average, were:

  1. Japanese language ($106,400)
  2. European history ($94,600)
  3. Politics ($93,600)
  4. Advertising design ($89,900)
  5. Industrial design ($89,800)

This begs obvious question: is projected/current salary the most important factor for the happiness of college graduates? Or for college students about to select a major?

Ballooning debt

The regret expressed by survey participants makes sense. The American student debt crisis has hit an all-time crisis, totaling $1.6 trillion nationwide this year. Plus. almost 70% of college students graduated with student loan debt this year, averaging about $33,000 per student.

Finally, regret over college also seems generational. Millennials are the employees most likely to regret their student loans  – and also most likely to regret their student loans. According to CBS News, “About 29% of millennials regret their student loans, while only 26% of Gen Xers and just 13% of baby boomers regret the loads they took on for college.”

Get help with student loan debt

Seeking help with your student loan debt? Visit to set up a student loan debt micro-funding profile and learn about employer loan repayment assistance.


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